Oil Price to Have Minuscule Impact on Growth of Renewables in Canada

Canada's below-average growth of green power will not be affected by the future price of oil, according to forecasts from the US Department of Energy.

A higher price for oil will have almost no impact on the growth of electricity generation from renewable energy sources in Canada, according to the US Department of Energy. The installed capacity of green power in Canada (including hydropower as well as wind, solar, tidal and other sources) was 74 GW in 2005, says DoE's Energy Information Administration in its International Energy Outlook 2011. By 2013, total green power capacity will increase to 88 GW and rise to 118.994 GW in 2035 under the reference scenario, an annual growth rate of 1.6%. Under a scenario of low oil prices, capacity by 2035 will reach 118.938 GW (1.6%) while it will be 118.96 GW (1.6%) under the scenario of high oil prices.

By comparison, green power capacity in the United States will grow from 124 GW in 2005 to 205.4 GW in 2035 (growth rate of 1.4%) but will reach 201.6 GW if oil prices are low (1.3%) and 209.5 GW if oil prices are high (1.5%) by 2035.

"The good news is that Canada's growth rate of green power is slightly ahead of the US," says Bill Eggertson, Executive Director of the Canadian Association for Renewable Energies (we c.a.r.e.). "The bad news is that we grow slower than other OECD nations and considerably slower than the world overall."

"Another concern is that Canada's total consumption of energy rises 1%, while the US slows its total consumption to 0.5% over the period," adds Eggertson. "Numerous recent forecasts show that Canada may grow our green power capacity, but that growth is almost eclipsed by the overall growth of carbon-based energy sources."

The EIA report shows that all OECD countries will expand their total capacity of green power from 536 to 1,022 GW over the 30 years (1.9%, 1.9%, 2% respective growth rates) while the world will increase from 990 to 2,372 GW (2.7%, 2.5%, 2.8%) over the period.

"As usual, our major concern is that most of the attention is going to the future of electricity, while very little priority is being given to thermal applications and the potential for GreenHeat," says Eggertson, who developed the GreenHeat Initiative. "In Canada, 80% of energy consumption and 80% of GHG emissions can be addressed by greater uptake of solar thermal, geothermal and biothermal applications."

The EIA will release its 2013 forecast summary on July 25.

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